In the summer of 1947, three men from Czechoslovakia took on the two-man Yugoslavian team in the Davis Cup European final. Now, 66 years later, the two arch rivals meet again in a final, this time as quite recently formed nations, and on the world stage. The Serbs will host the team from Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final in November and, if history serves right, the fans are in for a cracking encounter.
The Czech team, led by world number five Tomas Berdych, will be featuring in their third final in five years. Presently the defending champions, they have finished runners-up on two occasions, in 1975 and 2009, and held aloft the coveted trophy for the first time in 1980. As for the hosts, they will be looking to repeat their exploits from three years ago, when they won their first and only Davis Cup crown at the same venue.
Last year the two nations met at the quarterfinal stage, where the Czechs won at home on their way to the title. The Serbs got the better of their European opponents three years ago, but Czech Republic heads into their upcoming encounter with a 6-5 overall advantage. Both the teams have had a fairly routine path to the final with the Serbs facing their only real test in their semifinal against giant killers Canada.
Team nominations will be announced as we get closer to the final, but with the Davis Cup title on the line, both nations will be bringing their A teams in. Czech Republic, as usual, will be relying heavily on their top two guns, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek. The two pair up to form their best doubles team on record, losing on just one occasion to date. Despite the home crowd support, the Czechs can take heart from the fact that the quicker indoor conditions play to their strengths. Both Berdych and Stepanek feel at home on hard courts. On the downside though, Berdych stands at a dismal 14-2 head to head record against Djokovic.
The world number one will be leading the Serbs, followed very closely by the flamboyant Janko Tipsarevic, Victor Troicki and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic. If the seeds play out according to plan, it will all boil down to the crucial doubles rubber on the second day. Both nations are well aware of the potential threat from the other side and will be prepared not to give an inch. “I think it will be a pretty open match against the Czech Republic. They have Tomas Berdych of course and have a strong doubles team. It’s going to be very tough and I expect a very dramatic final,” said Tipsarevic, after their semifinal win.
So, with a little over a month left for the big finale, preparations should be underway inside the Belgrade Arena. With national pride on the line and the prestigious Davis Cup up for grabs, expect plenty of fireworks come November.